You’ve heard of using seasonal ingredients, but matching your cooking methods to the climate is just as smart. Not only do you get the best out of fresh produce in terms of taste and cost, but you can warm yourself up with well-chosen cooking techniques.
Here’s a quick guide from Terry Harris, dietitian at Discovery Vitality, to the best ways of preparing hearty meals in autumn and winter:
- Slow, moist cooking methods – slow cooking helps to break down the collagen in tougher cuts of meat to produce stews, soups and braises. Wholegrains are perfect accompaniments to these meals. You can also easily throw in some canned pulses or a few handfuls of soup mix to thicken a stew and up its nutritional ante.
- Roasting – Roasts are great when it’s chilly outdoors, and root vegetables like carrots, squashes and baby potatoes are especially delicious when roasted with a large joint or chicken.
- Boiling – for the ultimate winter comfort food, try soups as a way to increase your vegetable and legume intake. Legumes such as peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas will also help you feel fuller for longer.
- Baking – simple and satisfying, this technique covers one-dish dinners like lasagne (try layering with sliced aubergine instead of pasta), shepherd’s pie, and stuffed vegetables.
- Poaching – this under-used method is generally quite healthy as it cooks the food by simmering it in a small amount of liquid, like water, broth or even wine. Try it for chicken, fish or vegetables, and if you’re feeling creative – poached pears!
- Warm desserts – the cold months are perfect for baked fruit desserts like apple tarts or warm, cooked puddings. Look up little tweaks to help make desserts healthier, like replacing some of the sugar with fruits like dates or raisins, using fat-free milk and less sugar when preparing homemade custard, and adding more nuts and seeds for added fibre.
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